Employment Governance

Is Statscan’s latest job vacancy survey another Kijiji jobs report?

Chart 1 Job Vacancy Statistics (JVS), February 2015 (3MMA)

Chart 2 Job Vacancy and Wages Survey (JVWS), Q1 2015

Source(s): Statistics Canada

Last month’s inaugural Job Vacancy and Wages Survey (JVWS) release by Statistics Canada – which the agency emphasises was undertaken on behalf of Employment and Skills Development Canada (ESDC) – raised more questions than it seemed to answer. When initially contacted for comment, Statscan indicated it would be releasing more data by the end of September. That data, along with  additional feedback provided by the agency, points to problems with the survey. It’s worth mentioning that ESDC was the source of the now infamous Kijiji jobs report – because the JVWS bears a striking resemblance to it.

Employment Governance Race and ethnicity

How the labour movement continues to fail minorities in Canada

Given reader interest in last year’s labour day post, here’s a follow-up. As touched on then, historically, Canadian labour unions have had issues representing racial minorities in Canada. In what was meant to appear as an effort to address this shortcoming and get with demographic reality, over the last couple of years several Canadian labour organisations elected racial minority members as either presidents or executive council members.

Last year’s post highlighted a 2010-2011 survey conducted on behalf of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). The reported results indicated only 15 of 52 CLC affiliates even bothered responding to the employment equity survey, with just 2 respondents indicating they’d implemented a program to assess racial diversity. But that was before all the newly elected minority labour execs took office. So how have things progressed since then?

Accountability Employment

Just in time for general election, new Canadian employment survey finds 180,000 more jobs than previously reported

Yesterday, the initial Job Vacancy and Wages Survey (JVWS) release was announced by Statscan. The timing of its release, just a couple of weeks into a three-month long general election campaign, is questionable at best. That the new survey happened to find a previously undiscovered 180,000 job vacancies, 82 percent more than Statscan’s current Job Vacancy Survey (JVS), is even more so. There isn’t much to go on at this point; nevertheless it’s worth taking a closer look at what little there is so far.

First, the release is titled Job vacancies and payroll employment by province and territory, first quarter 2015. Yet the note to readers indicates that data collection only began in February 2015; the so-called ‘first quarter 2015’ JVWS release obviously doesn’t cover the first quarter. Nor for that matter does it cover the ‘W’ part, since the same notes indicate data collection for the wage component is scheduled to start in 2016. Clearly, this was a premature release. The question is why.

Accountability Employment Governance Race and ethnicity

Why misleading, misinformed screeds calling for the elimination of race-based stats ought to be retired: In the (former) chief statistician’s words

Editor’s Note: This is a follow-up to a post earlier this month that promised to provide historical context.

Chief statistician: Why the census is counting visible minorities
It is in everyone’s interest that debate on issues related to employment equity ‘be supported by objective … data rather than by impressions, unfounded opinion or stereotypes.’
Ivan P. Fellegi

The Globe and Mail
Friday, April 26, 1996

This is the text of a letter sent this week to a number of Canadian newspapers by Ivan Fellegi, chief statistician of Canada, Statistics Canada, in response to criticisms of Question 19 in the 1996 census. (One critic, Reform MP Mike Scott of the B.C. riding of Skeena, had suggested that Canadians identify themselves as Martians to “send a signal to the federal government that Canadians have had enough of this garbage.”)

Employment Financial security Governance Poverty

Why minimum wage policies are ineffective: A brief overview, plus Ontario retail sector example

Chart 1 Change in hours and wages, Retail trade, Ontario, 1983-2014*
Chart 1 Change in hours and wages, Retail trade, Ontario, 1983-2014
Source(s): CANSIM tables for Survey of Employment Payroll and Hours (SEPH), Statistics Canada. (See Note 6)

Encouraged by recent initiatives in relatively more prosperous US jurisdictions (Seattle and San Francisco), Canadian labour groups, particularly those out west (BC and Alberta), have taken to calling for dramatic minimum wage hikes. These labour groups cite research they interpret to mean that min-wages do not affect (dis)employment, and assert that mandated wage hikes will help address income inequality and/or alleviate poverty. Unfortunately, the min-wage research to date does not support this assertion. That may have more to do with the challenge of distinguishing between min-wage and other effects. Perhaps the best approach is not to try to discern the direct effect of min-wage policy at all, but rather infer it from broader labour market trends.

Employment Immigration Media Population Race and ethnicity

Why misleading, misinformed screeds calling for the elimination of race-based stats ought to be retired

Chart 1 Share of Canadian population reporting ‘Canadian’ ethnic origin vs share reporting* ‘visible minority’ status, by census year
Chart 1 Share of Canadian population reporting 'Canadian' ethnic origin vs share reporting 'visible minority' status, by census year

Source(s): Census of population public-use microdata files (PUMFs), Statistics Canada

The recent Canadian Economics Association (CEA) conference has been criticised for its lack of diversity, as have its precedents. It wasn’t clear at first why one particular economist was singled out for criticism. Apparently it had to do with an article  this economist, an older white female, wrote a couple years ago calling for the elimination of “visible minority” status from employment equity and, along with it, the race question altogether from the Canadian census. She argued race is an arbitrary, antiquated and irrelevant concept. That her screed was poorly written and argued is understandable, albeit unfortunate, given it’s not her area of expertise (‘feminomics’). That the same economist is supposedly set to chair the 2017 CEA conference is a legitimate concern.

Employment Population Social security

Sub-1% employment growth the new norm, plus a look at demographic projections

Chart 1 Population and employment estimates and projections 1976-2050
Chart 1 Population and employment estimates and projections 1976-2050
Source(s): Statistics Canada and Finance Canada estimates and projections

As noted in a previous  post (see Family Tax Cut), the impact the demographic shift will have on labour supply is likely overstated. Its ill-advised use of Kijiji data aside, the Finance Canada Jobs Report published last February included labour market projections. 2014 was projected to be the last year with employment growth of 1.0 percent or higher, and the binding constraint on future growth was projected to be labour supply. The first projection missed out of the gate, and the limited data available suggests the second may not prove any more reliable.

Employment Media Transparency

Fluctuating self-employment data a sign of Canada’s weak labour market (Includes Correction*)

Chart 1 Part-time self-employment by sex, seasonally adjusted and unadjusted
               January 1987 to December 2000Chart 1 Part-time self-employment by sex, seasonally adjusted and unadjusted Jan1987-Dec2000

 Source: CANSIM Table 282-0019 Labour force survey estimates (LFS), Statistics Canada
*downloaded February 11, 2015


Chart 2 Part-time self-employment by sex, seasonally adjusted and unadjusted
               January 2001 to December 2014Chart 2 Part-time self-employment by sex, seasonally adjusted and unadjusted Jan2001-Dec2014

 Source: CANSIM Table 282-0019 Labour force survey estimates (LFS), Statistics Canada
*downloaded February 11, 2015


Note: Chart data was seasonally adjusted using TRAMO-SEATS from Banco de España. For more information, see Empirical Evaluation of X-11 and Model-based Seasonal Adjustment MethodsU.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 2007.

Employment Media

November 2014 LFS: An alternative view. 23,000 jobs lost, or 12,300 new ‘entrepreneurs’ found?*

Statistics Canada’s November 2014 Labour Force Survey (LFS) release  generated the typical headlines, like Canada lost 10,000 jobs in November (courtesy CBC News). The associated write-ups highlighted bank economists’ ‘cautious optimism’, as they have for a number of years now. While Statscan’s brief report twice mentioned significant self-employment gains, both month-to-month and year-over-year, most national news reports (like CBC News’) omitted any such mention. As the saying goes, you can only lead a horse to water.

The almost statistically insignificant changes reported in the latest and last LFS release of the year nevertheless merit mention, if only for reflecting the year that was(n’t) in the Canadian labour market.

Accountability Employment Governance Transparency

What’s really behind the peculiar Canadian labour stats lately?

Following Statistics Canada’s July 2014 Labour Force Survey (LFS) flub, speculation about the survey’s reliability abounded. The agency subsequently issued a statement to assure the public it was a one-off ‘human’, as opposed to systemic, error. Then immediately followed it up with  an August LFS release that raised a collective eyebrow. The interesting part about StatsCan’s explanations for the wonky LFS stats of late is the lack of data quality measures to back them up.

According to StatsCan, public confidence in its data quality is of paramount importance. To this end, it maintains a Policy on Informing Users of Data Quality and Methodology. Unfortunately, the policy diverges widely from current practice.